Be The Kind of Teacher Your Students Think You Are
Ok, we’ve all seen those memes and pictures floating around the Internet about ‘be the person your dog thinks you are’, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve gotten a good chuckle out of them, and said to yourself, ‘that’s so true’. Our animals always love us, even when we have less than lovable moments…
Well, we could apply this same phrase to teaching dance… ‘be the kind of teacher your student thinks you are’. Most dancers (especially the little ‘uns) idolize us dance teachers; little do they know the behind the scenes chaos of unfinished lesson plans, parent emails and documents that need signing, costume orderings, payroll… oy vey. Wearing all of these hats can leave us feeling like a hot mess sometimes, and I know I’m not the only one who’s had a bad day and not been my best at the studio or in my classes.
At the same time, 99% of the time we ARE the teachers our students think we are: we’re generous, passionate, loving and caring. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have tools and resources up our sleeves to help us be the best teachers we can be, which is where today’s blog comes in!
I made this handy dandy infographic with 5 action oriented steps you can take to become a big(ger) hearted teacher.
STEP 1 - LISTEN MORE THAN YOU TALK
As teachers, we talk a lot, but make sure you're taking time to balance the scales by listening. Don't be afraid to fill every silence - leave room in class for corrections to sink in, for students to give each other feedback, for staff to take the lead on projects and to really hear parent concerns or questions.
STEP 2 - FOCUS ON FEELING
Dance is a technical practice, but one that is brought to life by feeling. When students get caught up with their reflections, teach the mirror as a tool to focus us on feeling. How does a line, a position, a movement feel, rather than look?
STEP 3 - WATCH YOUR WORDS
Are you using words and giving corrections out of habit that could be phrased more positively? Just because you've taught, or spoken, or given a correction one way for years doesn't mean there's not room for improvement. (I actually wrote this blog post about just that, and it’s gotten over 1,000 views!) Commit to listening to your words and asking yourself if you could upgrade your language to be more positive.
STEP 4 - CHECK YOUR EMOTIONS
We all have bad days, that's to be expected. Find an outlet for your emotions outside of the dance classroom. If you find yourself caught up in frustration, take a walk, journal, talk with a trusted friend, and then leave it. Negative emotions are draining for you and your students.
STEP 5 - USE YOUR SUPERPOWERS, BUT REMEMBER YOU’RE NOT SUPERHUMAN
You absolutely have superpowers unique to you, but you are not superhuman. Take good care of yourself first, so you can take good care of your students and your business. Prioritize the things and rituals that make you feel your best.
Which of these steps will you be trying first? Comment below and let me know, or head on over to Instagram and DM me to tell me! Happy dancing!